Space mining

How close are we to 
extraterrestrial mining?

Up until now, the extraterrestrial mining was only a hypothetical solution for the future. Over the years several attempts to start extraterrestrial mining operations have been made. Several companies are developing space mining technologies.

Extraterrestrial mining, as well as Earth mining, have four major common components: prospect, explore, extract, transport. Transportation of the extracted material in terrestrial mining operations is quite a trivial task, the celestial mining requires transportation efforts of different kind and magnitude. Mining machinery, human crews or robots must be delivered to asteroids, the Moon, other planets. The extracted material has to be delivered to its final destination, either Earth, or other human settlements within our Solar system or beyond.

Same old chemical propulsion technology with an extremely low specific impulse due to very limited fuel reserves on board a spacecraft result in exorbitant transportation cost and extremely prohibitive expense/income ratio. Less than 5% of a rocket’s starting mass reaches orbit.

Technology is the difference

The invention of Astrodrive, constant acceleration propulsion device with infinite “fuel” reserves and, therefore, specific impulse, could make the asteroid mining a near future reality.

Interplanetary shuttle, capable of transporting on a single flight in an economically viable manner tens or even hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo from and to Earth, between the planets of the Solar system and human space habitats, will enable full scale commercial extraterrestrial mining operations.

The cost of space cargo transportation will not exceed the cost of air transportation on Earth.

Economic feasibility

Despite the high initial price tag, the development of asteroid mining, using Astrodrive propulsion technology, is most certainly a worthwhile endeavor due to the extremely valuable resources that asteroids and the Moon have to offer.

For example, Asterank, which measures the potential value of over 6,000 asteroids that NASA currently tracks, has determined that mining just the top 10 most cost-effective asteroids, those that are both closest to Earth and greatest in value–would produce a profit of around US$1.5 trillion.

There is also great potential for further expansion within the asteroid belt. One asteroid, 16 Psyche, has been reported to contain US $10 Quintillion (yes, it's 18 zeroes) worth of gold, nickel, platinum and other metals.

Certain asteroids hold more pure metals in great quantities, a study by NASA supports that the asteroid belt could be worth around 700 Quintillion dollars. 

Extraterrestrial material mining, extraction and usage options

  • Bring raw asteroidal material to Earth for use;
  • Process it on-site to bring back only processed materials;
  • Transport the asteroid or its parts to Earth for processing or to a safe orbit in one or more stable Lagrange points L4, L5 within Sun-Earth, Earth-Moon or Sun-Jupiter systems, for safe storage;
  • In-space manufacturing is one of the options of the foreseeable space exploration future. Refining and manufacturing operations can be carried out at celestial industrial plants, that can also be safely built and placed around the stable L4 and L5 Lagrange points. Those points are also premier targets for future human settlements within the Solar system.

All of the above plans would be impossible without reliable, efficient and economically viable means of celestial transportation. 

Astrodrive-powered spacecraft is an obvious answer.